Much hand-wringing and hair-pulling is going on in India over Pakistan’s “1971” moment. Actually Pakistan has had two 1971 moments. Once when they ejected the Soviets from Afghanistan in 1989, and now.
What were the lessons of 1989? The US completely lost interest in Pakistan then. It put sanctions on its nuke programme. It refused to even deliver F-16s to Pakistan for which Pakistan had already paid. Pakistan was lost and humbled. Yet, 9/11 happened, and another lion walked into Pakistan’s lair.
Will this be the last time the US will have a need for Pakistan? Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, has already said that the US needs Pakistan for counterterrorism. What kind of counterterrorism? Afghanistan is not Vietnam. There was no blowback for the US after Vietnam.
The Christian Crusades against the Muslims and the Jews of Jerusalem led to rivers of blood, up to chest high, flowing through the streets of the city. History will record that we live in an era of a modern-day crusade. George W. Bush just before he invaded Afghanistan in 2001 termed his warmongering a crusade. Straight from the master’s lips, so what else can it be?
The fight then is clear. It is white Christian nations versus brown Muslim nations. The US has been involved in the following campaigns after 9/11: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen. All Muslim nations. It has met defeat in Afghanistan and Iraq, and been dealt a bruising blow in Libya, Syria and Yemen. Estimate of Muslim lives lost from war and displacement caused by war since 9/11 vary between five and ten million.
Think about this figure. It is simply enormous. It is claimed that in Afghanistan only a couple of hundred thousand Afghan lives have been lost. Really? A 20-year carpet bombing campaign by the US, and only two hundred thousand lives of those carpet-bombed lost. The real figure must be well over a million.
The West’s crusade has been joined by the Muslims. They don’t care about how many lives that they are losing. They feel vindicated and want to inflict maximum vengeance upon the US. (Read my book, Inside Al Qaeda’s Plot to Nuke America, forthcoming soon).
The easiest way for jihadis to launch an attack on America is to get their hands on the little nukes (Nasrs) floating around Pakistan and burst one on the US. But Pakistan will not give up its nuke programme unless India does so, and India will not until China does so, which won’t until the West and Russia do so, which altogether is an impossibility.
That just means that America has to maintain heavy monitoring of Pakistan’s nuke programme. It has quit Afghanistan but can still send special forces there to keep tabs on what’s happening. Even in that effort it might need Pakistan’s support. So Pakistan’s importance to America is not going to recede. It’s only going to grow.
Much is being made of Blinken’s statement that the US would like to see Pakistan evolve the way it, the US, wishes. This is just wishful thinking. When the Americans were all over Afghanistan (and Pakistan), they could not force the Pakistanis to do what they wanted to do. Now that they have hightailed out of Afghanistan, are we expected to believe that the US has more leverage over Pakistan now than before?
Sure, the US can levy financial pressure on Pakistan. But all of Al Qaeda’s leaders, including its chief, Al Zawahiri, are still in Pakistan. Now with Afghanistan all clear, maybe they have moved there. The point is that Pakistan is not Iran. Iran has been unable to do little, at least overtly, about the crippling US sanctions applied on it. Pakistan, if faced with similar sanctions, can let loose all kinds of jihadi monsters and weapons.
We are back to the situation before 9/11. There will be some pressure on Pakistan from the US. But the US needs Pakistan. It may not want Al Zawahiri’s head directly, because for every Al Zawahiri gone, another pops up, but it definitely needs Pakistan to make sure nukes don’t fly loose and get into the hands of jihadis. So it will be a cat and mouse game between the Americans and the Pakistanis. Who’s the cat and who’s the mouse is anybody’s guess, but based on recent history, my bet is on the Pakistanis being the cat.
Other than the US, the country that has clearly lost out in Afghanistan is India. For 20 years, India has poured over $3 billion in aid and reconstruction into Afghanistan, all of which, in a jiffy, has just landed in the hands of the Taliban. Pakistan has now become without doubt emboldened to launch a second jihad to liberate Kashmir from India. India cannot be naïve and altruistic anymore. It has to ramp up support for Pakistan’s Baloch rebels as well as instigate the Taliban in amalgamating Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province into Afghanistan, a long-cherished dream of its.
India just cannot afford to be a mute and idle spectator in the AfPak region. Its very survival is at risk. Pakistan has often accused India of fomenting terrorism in its own territory through the Pakistani Taliban. But think about this. The Pakistani Taliban wants to impose sharia in Pakistan, just as it’s been now imposed in Afghanistan.
But Pakistan’s Muslims are Hinduized. They don’t want sharia, just as India doesn’t want an enormous territory on its western flank under sharia. It is in India’s interest that Pakistan stays Hinduized. Why then would India support the Pakistani Taliban?
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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